Drought Monitor: Slight Drought Expansion in the Upper Midwest

January 26, 2012 02:47 AM

The National Drought Monitor reports that despite dry, warmer-than-normal weather (temperatures averaging up to 14°F above normal), little if any change was made to the drought designation from Texas northward into southern Kansas. "In fact, locally heavy rain has been falling over the region since the data cutoff time (12z Tuesday, January 24) for this week’s drought depiction; impacts from the rain will be addressed in next week’s U.S. Drought Monitor," the report explains. A small increase in D0 (Abnormally Dry) was made in northeastern Oklahoma to reflect 60-day precipitation deficits up to 3 inches (locally more), the monitor notes.

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Farther north in the Central and Northern Plains, the monitor notes seasonably cold conditions prevailed, with some snow fall from the northern High Plains east across northern South Dakota to Sioux Falls. The monitor explains that south of the area of this snow, "D0 (Abnormally Dry) conditions were expanded to include much of northern Nebraska. Precipitation in this area has totaled locally less than 50% of normal over the past 60 to 90 days, with the three-month Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) highlighting this same area as being unfavorably dry."

In the Midwest, drought areas which had extended from northwest Iowa into Minnesota and east-most portions of the Dakotas, experienced mostly dry weather and seasonal temps the past week. As a result, the monitor says "Changes to drought designation were generally minor, and included expansion of Moderate Drought (D1) across northwestern Minnesota and northeastern North Dakota."

The monitor continues, "Standardized Precipitation Indices (SPI) out to six months indicated increasingly dry conditions in this region. Likewise, 90-day precipitation totals are running 25% of normal or less north of Grand Forks, and soil moisture percentile rankings are in the 10th percentile or lower across much of northern Minnesota." But the monitor cautions that "drought impacts at this time of year are generally negligible and difficult to ascertain due to the cold; should drier-than-normal conditions continue, this area will have to be closely monitored as we ease into spring."

Looking ahead, a wetter outlook for the Southern Plains could further ease drought conditions there. "A moisture-laden storm system will provide widespread, locally heavy rain from central and eastern Texas into the Delta and Southeast, although rain is expected to diminish as a trailing cold front sweeps across Florida," the monitor explains. It continues to explain that the National Weather Service's 6- to 10-day outlook calls for "above-normal temperatures over much of the contiguous U.S., with cooler than normal conditions confined to southern Florida. Drier-than-normal weather is expected from the central and southern Rockies into California and from the southern Delta into the southern Atlantic Coast. Meanwhile, above-normal precipitation is anticipated from the central Corn Belt into the Great Lakes Region."




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